Switzerland Issues Licenses to Blockchain Businesses, Reaffirms AML Regulations

Switzerland’s financial authority issued new guidance last week, reaffirming its anti-money laundering (AML) rules. The authority also issued its first two licenses to two firms that aim to offer blockchain services.  

“Switzerland has always applied the AML Act to blockchain services providers. Such providers are obliged, for example, to verify the identity of their customers, to establish the identity of beneficial owners, to take a risk-based approach to monitoring business relationships and to file a report with the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) if there are reasonable grounds to suspect money laundering,” the agency stated.

It also specified that AML regulations are applicable to service providers of blockchain-based services. This likely refers to cryptocurrency exchanges. The European country, famed for its banking secrecy laws, is among the few nations on earth to formulate regulations for cryptocurrencies.

Switzerland is also a signatory of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which itself issued new non-binding guidance for cryptocurrency exchanges last month.

Earlier this year, the Swiss government was reported to be considering a revamp of its existing AML laws to make them even more strict. The government planned to introduce advisors – a new category of individuals – within the existing framework. They would be legally obligated to report suspicious financial activity to financial agencies.

Licenses for Blockchain Firms

Two firms were also awarded banking licenses by Finma. They are SEBA Crypto AG and Sygnum AG. SEBA is a bank focused on digital assets while Sygnum provides an assortment of services, including custody, banking, and brokerage. It also provides tokenization services to financial services firm, enabling them to convert existing assets into token form. Andreas Amschwand, Chairman of the Board of SEBA, called the banking license a “milestone for SEBA” and claimed that it “sets a new standard for banking in the Blockchain and digital asset economy.” Manuel Krieger, co-founder and CEO of Sygnum, said the license was a “major landmark” for them. “We are looking forward to taking Sygnum’s integrated digital asset banking solutions to market, together with our valued customers and partners,” he stated.